Wednesday, November 30, 2005

WOW! Google keeps expanding services!

Google has begun testing a new click-to-call service that lets people speak with advertisers on its search results page without having to pick up the phone and dial.

A Web surfer can click a phone icon adjacent to an ad, enter his or her own phone number and then click a "connect for free" button. Google's service calls the advertiser's phone number and when the Web surfer picks up the receiver on his phone, he or she hears ringing as the call to the advertiser is connected, according to a Google Click-to-Call frequently-asked-questions page...

Now every 35 year old guy who still lives with MOM can click on the porn actress' line, "I'LL GET IT, MOM, IT'S FOR ME!"

Seriously, this is great thinking. These Google guys are ahead of the curve!

And Skype too, if you don't have it - is free, easy, and WAY cool. You use your broadband to speak to anyone else on Skype's software (typically there are 4 million users using - on line - at any time!) The kick - it's full fidelity and as if they are in the room with you. Difficult to explain, it's better than telephone by LEAPS and BOUNDS. You need a microphone and speakers - these can be bought for very cheap at Radio Shack or a computer store.


A friend in need.

I have a buddy many many miles away who is going through a gut-wrench. We spoke about it and I felt so helpless for him. Advice from the unqualified - that's me. But I tried to help while he kept apologizing for even bringing his problem to the conversation. I told him friends are friends, and I'd try to help because that's what true friends do. I care.

I've always wished I could find the words to make a difference... the speech or whisper that REALLY made a difference. Somehow I doubt I've scored the way I want to - but wouldn't it be great - just once - to turn the tide or clear the despair, to bring hope, to inspire, to help... with words!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Used to be we'd get every catalog ever. And maybe 3 of each Victoria Secret catalog (which I didn't mind, but man, they must have a HIGH profit margin because we'd get a new mailing about every other day! I saw more of the models than rock stars and David Copperfield put together!)

But a change is in the wind, I fear. Maybe it was that we moved, but the UPS people sure do know we are here, and I assume the mailorder machine does too. Terri doesn't think anything of ordering then returning things (not a guy thought - we buy we endure.) Maybe that's why we enjoy such earthly catalog delights. Or USED to as now it seems every day there are more and more E shopping E mails in the inbox.

I think I remember that 28 BILLION dollars will be spent online this season (or this year, I'm not sure which!) Anyway you slice it, if I want models, I'll have to Google-Ogle. Good thing we don't still have the parrot. Those catalogs were high end cage liner!

Monday, November 28, 2005


A story of a gamer who won a tourney's top prize of $150,000 takes today's Raised Eyebrow Award. That and the term they used to describe him, "Cyberathlete." Excuse me? Oxymoron alert!

I don't begrudge the winner. Anybody who wins $150,000 has good fortune and good for them.

But c'mon... twitching thumbs and great hand/eye co-ordination is a skill set, certainly, but ATHLETE it isn't.

I've never gotten into the games I've seen. They just don't interest me. Like The Simpsons - so many have described it as the best writing on TV but I can't get past the cartoons. Some people hate clowns. I just can't spend time watching animation on that level.

I'm sure no expert of the gaming world but from the ads I now see in heavy rotation on TV for the X-Box Xmas season, I'm still not interested. (I admit I have wasted some time on my IPAQ playing whatever it is that came with it, a game which requires strategy, not hand/eye.)

Years ago I tried a flying simulation computer program but it was just too disconnected from the real thing (I have an old crusty pilot's license) for me.

My mother couldn't navigate a microwave's control panel. I wonder if my lack of gamesmanship-interest is the same thing for the next generation?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

GREENHOUSE GASES to be cut back.

Current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are higher than at any time in the past 650,000 years, say researchers who have finished cataloguing air bubbles trapped for millennia inside Antarctic ice. The record, which extends back over the past eight ice ages, shows that today's concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane far outstrip those in the past.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen 200 times faster over the past 50 years than at any other time during this period, says Thomas Stocker of the University of Bern, Switzerland, who led the analysis.

Today the Bush administration has finally come around to the side of environmentalists who have been sounding the alarm of global warming for some time. "We will put forth a bill to limit the growth of plants and flowers in greenhouses," said the President, who is spending time with his family at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I must have passed a threshold. Watching the first two hours of the AMAs (Dick Clark's version of the Grammys - seriously, that's what they are) I felt that most of it was weak. Cedric - pass. His brief dance was the best part of his act. His jokes mostly fell flat. Lindsay Lohan - pass. Hillary Duff - pass. You could just see the corporatization of some of these 'stars' as it was all fluff and posing, lacking any real substance. I'm too old to remember (or care) which was which - Lindsay or Hillary had dancers in wild action behind her; it looked like some bizarre disconnect ritual. They were trying very hard to(distract?) And you could hear that the lead - Lindsay or Hillary - was missing notes by the bushel. One was worse by far than the other.

Mariah Carey looked like she belongs in a tank at Seaworld. She blamed her monitors for a bad performance. Granted. But the monitors didn't chow down for her. I haven't seen Mariah for years (actually have avoided her successfully) but wow! she has packed it on. Put THAT in a slinky dress and you get something I don't want to see. If she dropped a boob out of that dress, it'd be a seismic disturbance!

It's probably me and my tastes.

Rob Thomas was good. Sheryl Crow was pro. Cindy Lauper was very good. Los Lonely Boys and Carlos Santana were the best we saw till we left for Threshold, a fair sci-fi show with no dancers trying to make the aliens look good.

I read that there were plenty of artist no-shows. Can't blame them.

FBI or CIA warnings!

Beware if you get these. They appear to be E-mails from the FBI or CIA that you've visited 30 illegal websites. They try to get you to open attachments. DON'T. Pure scams. Over the past day we've received about a dozen of these along with bogus "your account is opened, click to see details" from a variety of "sources."

We didn't subscribe to them.

Best to delete then delete deleted.

Rat Bastards!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Adventures in Urology!

Here's a clue - if you see that as a cable-tv listing, pass.

It is a beautiful bright, blue-sky 60 degree+ morning deep in the heart of Texas. And on this wonderful day, I must drive to the Urologist for a checkup post-surgery, now that 4 1/2 weeks have elapsed. I'm not used to morning traffic, working out of the house as I have, so I left with plenty of time to spare.

Since the surgery, the URGE will come up at a sometimes-alarming rate, and there's no holding it back for more than a minute or two, if you get my drift.

So here I go into the sun, driving to this hidden medical center. Last time I took the wrong exit. THIS time I will be much more careful. First left, then a right, then second left, good. Boy, I drink a lot for breakfast - all that juice and that big bowl of cereal... the pressure is on, but I think I'll make it. All is good. Hey, there's the hospital. DARN I missed my exit. Hey, I have to GO.

Remember, it comes on quickly. I make the NEXT exit, hoping I can find my way back... in time.

Oh heck, I am lost. Where's a coffee shop or anything with a bathroom.

There aren't any. It's pawn shops and body shops and nothing looks open anyway.

I start to plan. And discover at some state of being you just don't care... you do what you have to do.

When I first turned onto this exit, I noticed a 'street' that seemed out of place, almost like the sugar cane fields James Bond drove through in one of his movies with Sean Connery as Bond. Very atypical in the land of pawn. High grasses, I guess, along the road.

I will stop.

But then ahead I notice what may be the hospital maybe a mile away. The doc's office is nearby. I decide to go for it. I race.

And hit the longest light in the world. I am on a third-world alley compared to the main thoroughfare I must cross. And I am seriously thinking about just gunning it to run the light at a traffic pause. The only thing that holds me back is if a cop sees this and stops me (assuming I survive it), I won't have time to explain. It'll be a demonstration!

FINALLY the light lets me go and I don't (if you get my drift). I race through the intersection and miss another turn.

I circle back. Park in any space. Make my dash... and I know if the doctor's office doesn't open till 9 I am sunk. Hand on the door, I am like a NASA countdown and the rocket is about to leave the bounds of earth!

The door is open. I make a run for the restroom. And make it. Just in time.

Thankful grew a new dimension today!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Car insurance discounts.

Are now possible. There's a box. You hook it to your car and then regularly download it into your computer and send the collected data to the insurance company. They, in turn, can see how fast you drove, etc., and reward careful drivers with lower rates.

Unless your teenager takes the car.

The 'rat box' will 'out' them. You may not want to know.

One fine fall afternoon, driving my mother's car home from my rural high school, the devil on my right shoulder goaded me with his pitchfork. My lust-for-speed gland was stimulated. "Go ahead, Bobby - the road is straight and long and you can see it's only fields on both sides and I wonder how fast this car will GOOOOOoooo?" Wuss-boy answered. I floored it. The Chevy got up to about 90, then I hit a dip in the road and launched the car into the air. Really did. It came down in a shower of sparks. And stalled. Would NOT start. I had to call home from a house up the street. They sent the repair guy who towed it away and later said that, "WHOEVER HAS BEEN DRIVING THIS CAR HAS BEEN DRIVING IT HARD." Understand that my parents were so conservative my father DIDN'T DRIVE and my mother (who topped out at 35 mph) insisted that radios in cars were dangerous - "because you couldn't hear ambulances."


Friday, November 18, 2005

Power Blip

Yesterday I was sitting listening to and evaluating a very powerful new amplifier pair (one for each channel). My worst fear came true - a power blip. I call it a blip but it was actually a failure and restoration all within what I'd estimate to be a second. About as long as it takes to say BLIP. I had feared that these new amps would destroy my speakers or blow me out of the room as they were not on 'protection.' (Yes, there's a whole industry that offers electronic regulation and protection for exotic systems (and computers, etc.))

The blip took down my PREamplifier (control unit) as the it knocked its protection off line. (That's supposed to happen - the unit will sacrifice itself if necessary.)

The amps stayed on and there was no shotgun blast of speaker cones. In fact, no noise at all. Thankfully!

The computer in another room rebooted. The Fax machine (usually a pansy in these things) stayed on. The new coffee machine clock went boogidy boogidy.

This took me back to my first job in radio in Annapolis, Maryland. We had BAD power at this little AM radio station (810 WYRE - "The Voice of the Bay"). It was so small we didn't have an engineer; rather, a "contract engineer" who would come by once a month or when needed, to keep us legal or working. Well, I was on the air in afternoon 'drive' - a big deal (to me, in this, my first job) - and we went off the air due to a power failure. It came back after a short while but the transmitter didn't. And I couldn't get the door open to reset the circuit breaker inside. I pushed and SHOVED and banged and others came and we all PUSHED and PULLED and... no dice. We called the engineer, panicked. Dead air is the worst sin in radio and it feels like life is ending and time goes by real slowly. The man comes in what must have been 40 minutes later and points to a dent in the door - "See this dent?" We all nod. He says, "That's where Adam f****d Eve. This thing is that old!" He then pushed the door with just a little effort near the Adam and Eve LoveMark, and the door creaked open. We reset the breaker and went back on the air.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly
compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated,
"If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has,
we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating;
If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with
the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would
have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason.
You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows,
shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could
continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would
cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case
you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun,
was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive but
would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights
would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed
an Illegal Operation"
warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask "Are you sure?" before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you
out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door
handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to
learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would
operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the engine off.

These are not mine, but worthy!

And finally for the politically insensitive:

After numerous rounds of "We don't know if Osama is still alive",
Osama himself decided to send George Bush a letter in his own
handwriting to let him know he was still in the game.

Bush opened the letter and it appeared to contain a single line of
coded message:

Bush was baffled, so he e-mailed it to Condi Rice. Condi and her
aides had no clue either, so they sent it to the FBI. No one could
solve it at the FBI so i! t went to the CIA, then to the NSA.

With no clue as to its meaning they eventually asked Israel's Shin
Bet for help. Within a minute Shin Bet cabled the White House with
this reply:

"Tell the President he's holding the message upside down."


Yesterday was do the pool chore day. I first do the chemical tests then drag the gallon o' acid to the acid hungry pool and splash it into the water, on the coping, my pants, shoes, etc.

As I headed back to the garage around the sidewalk that rims the house, I heard a scritch coming from one of the downspouts. It caught my attention. There it was again, like something was falling through the pipe. And yet, the sky was clear, there are no overhanging trees. I spotted what appeared to be a thin branch sticking out the bottom of the spout. Then it disappeared as I heard the noise. It popped back then disappeared again. What the...? I bent down, looked closely and (since I was wearing my acid proof gloves) carefully pulled the stick from the pipe... and found myself holding the tail of a gecko. A nice specimen, too. I freed him/her/it and felt very brave.

No car insurance was discussed.


This week, Clark, a town in North Texas, changed its name to DISH CITY, to take advantage of an offer from Dish Network for free satellite TV service for the community (for ten years - worth about $4500 per home).

Some have criticized this move, calling the town sellouts.

Other cities (towns, actually) have apparently flirted with name changes over the years for commercial purposes. But heck, when they sell naming rights to stadii all over the country, why not?

In fact, I think our own Spanish Oaks community here should become BMW, Jaguar or Lexus, Texas (nice ring, huh?)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


It hit me. Why don't I set up a blog for this community? This gated, luxury-home community? Where would it lead? What content would be in it? Would I open pandorra's gold box? Or become an administrative nightmare? Might be interesting.
Not sure where that'll lead. Lawsuits? Men-in-Black surveilance? Shunning? (PS: I opened it but only one other person knows about it so far.) I'll become a BLOGLORD, yeah, that's it.

For some reason (thanks to you) my blogs both experienced big spikes in readership Monday. Tuesday was back to normal. Not sure why. But I appreciate it. Thank you! I do try to keep them moving and interesting, though I don't think there's enough humor in this one. I'll do better.

Today I must reach into the pool and do the chemistry check. You have to reach a few feet down - surface water is like a Catholic who only goes to church on Easter and Christmas, I guess. Last night was our first cool night - it'll be interesting to see how quickly the water cools. I will probably fall in. Can't believe I haven't dropped my phone in there yet. Or tripped while carrying the acid.

My website is also increasing month to month, and I am seriously ready to start another, though a different kind, and this next one will be through a different method of construction - much easier too, I hope. The program I use now is incredibly time consuming, mechanically, and the new one which I have obtained looks much simpler. Time will tell.

There are many stories of those who retire on internet money and I admit I like the idea. I just hope the state of that money-making isn't like last-in on the pyramid scheme. I sure have learned a lot in the months I've been doing this! There IS a lot to learn.

Here's a fun thing for you: we are now on our 4th landscaper who took my box of seeds and was a no-show on both his 'today or tommorrow' promise to do the work Monday. I call this the curse of the landscaper!

PS: He just called and said "tomorrow" again. Did you know that weeds can laugh? I know I heard them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Don’t Use Sony’s Web-based XCP Uninstaller

Sony’s Web-Based Uninstaller Opens a Big Security Hole; Sony to Recall Discs

Read all about it. It gets worse!

SONY installed copy 'protection' on CDs (see below). Then it was found that the 'protection' infected computers and made them vulnerable. Then SONY released a patch. The patch, however, might be worse than the original problem.

"Hello? Is this the public relations department? Yes. We have a slight problem and I was wondering if we could get together..."


In response to representations made by the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency out of concern that emerging technologies “were making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement agencies to execute authorized surveillance”, the US communications governing body, the Federal Communications Commission, issued a final Order effective Monday November 14th compelling all broadband Internet service providers and many Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, companies to include backdoors allowing police and many other enforcement agencies to directly eavesdrop on their customers by April 2007.

Doing the wrong thing. BAD BOB.

I know it's wrong but I make the excuse that it's human nature to gloat. Although we are facing our first real cool front of the year, we can't help but rejoice that we are not in for the Minneapolis weather forecast (our last home for almost a dozen years): rain into freezing rain into snow.

That first drive is just awful - people need a few icy roads under their tires every year before they remember how to drive. And freezing rain is the worst.

So tonight when we visit the Weather Channel we will remember our friends up there and feel for them while we enjoy OUR cold front as temps dip and winds blow... and the temp drops to the 40s.

Terri fell enough times on ice and snow to plan a masterful escape. I thank her regularly!

Monday, November 14, 2005

New Page added to Website

The High End Studio contains some wild gear for you to see. I will add to it as appropriate gear comes into my view and I have time to track it down.

For now:

A subwoofer that makes your kidneys fall out! (Well, it could! Goes down to ONE cycle.)

A cheap digital room correction device!

A $122,000 record playing turntable!

Are the first three entries.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Today we mark as Terri received her first scorpion bite. She's okay and says it was less than a bee sting. It was a little one she says, and she did some internet research and says the pain can be treated by a new pair of shoes.

I am still a scorpvirgin.

On another subject, I'd like to try an experiment. If you enjoy this blog would you pass the word and blog address to a friend who might also enjoy it? Stats are pretty stable - I get about the same views every day and I am curious what can be done to goose the readership. (Write better? More? Get more nutso? Any ideas? Comments welcome!)

Another interesting thing (to me) is that my OTHER blog about Home Theater is also stable... and both track at almost the same distance from each other day by day (this one leads.)

An aside: Watching UT football has been such a wonderful thing - the team is awesome (loaded with talent, coached very very well and remarkably free of obvious ego!) and it's so cool to watch them ROLL over the competition week by week. Hook 'em Horns! I haven't ever enjoyed any sport this much in any city I've lived.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I've been wondering...

1- Does it look to you like Bill Clinton has ET's finger? I saw him give a talk and I swear that thing was really long and crooked and just odd. No lighted tip though.

2- Why do UFOs drive around at night with their lights on? What are they afraid of running into? Or are these the old geezers of the galaxy who drive around with their version of the turn signal on?

3- What will KFC do if Bird Flu hits humans? Squirrel?

4- Why does the government subsidize tobacco farmers and energy companies?

5- Where did that snake on our front porch this morning GO?

6- Why is alcohol legal and Marijuana illegal?


Remember, I have another blog for HOME THEATER at

and a website dedicated to Making Home Theater Easy with guides and reviews at

Please have a look when you get a chance!


DETROIT - Union workers at General Motors Corp. ratified a deal to help the automaker cut billions of dollars in health-care costs, but analysts said the move was far from enough to turn things around at the struggling auto giant.


Welcoming the ratification, which was announced by the United Auto Workers union on Friday, GM said the deal would slash its long-term health-care liability by $15 billion, cut its hourly health-care liability by 25 percent, and reduce health-care expenses by about $3 billion annually, before taxes.

GM shares rose more than 4 percent on the news, after spiraling to a 23-year low on Thursday on fears about mounting financial woes at GM and a possible strike at its main auto parts supplier, bankrupt Delphi Corp.

"The deal is a move in the right direction, but no one thinks this is the end to their problems. The laundry list of the things that GM needs to do to fix itself is about a dozen items long, and this deal was a small item on that list," Argus Research Group analyst Kevin Tynan said.


GM is said to be considering certain redesigns aimed at trimming expense further. For example, preliminary talks have centered around removal of glove compartments from all GM cars. "Most folks rarely use them anyway, they are usually full of junk you thought you lost years ago. And the heat in the car ruins the condoms," said Peter Booker, GM Expense Reduction Specialist. "And turn signals on all four corners of the car - we might move them to the roof and only need two that way. And why a parking brake? People put the car into Park - that should be enough! Ashtrays have been proven to be a safety hazard - we can cut them. That means cigarette lighters can go too. You ever drop one of those into your lap? Liability costs right there - eliminated!"

GM is allegedly working on new 3 wheel designs for the Pontiac and Chevrolet divisions.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Copper at all time high - Penny affected

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Copper prices touched a lifetime high Friday above $1.90 a pound on supply concerns, platinum hit a 26-year peak and gold futures marked a five-session climb to close 2.5% higher for the week.

The rising price of copper finally took its toll on the Lincoln cent in 1982. The composition in 1982 was changed to an alloy of 99.2 percent zinc and 0.8 percent copper, plated by pure copper - making the total composition 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper.

Citing the rise in copper prices, the Bush administration today suggested that "Zinc cannot be far behind the other precious metals" and that most folks are annoyed by Pennies anyway. "They keep them in jars." This helps the economy by, in effect, retiring that money, though sometimes those jars are taken to banks or coin aggregator automation machines in supermarkets where they are put back in circulation.

For 2006, the Treasury Department has proposed a New Penny to be made completely of Soy protein polymer. Over time, when exposed to air, it would disintegrate to a harmless grey fiber. "This will stop Penny hoarding and strengthen our economy at the same time," said a spokesperson.

"As a further benefit, the New Soy Penny will be edible. Said the spokesperson, "This will allow those less fortunate to actually get a wholesome fiber packed meal for about a dollar. That will help the economy, help keep America healthy... and regular too. It's a win-win-win."

Production of the New Penny will be subcontracted to the Haliburton Companies.

Fly the Crappy Skies

A new Zagat survey reports low scores for many airlines; every airline slipped since the last poll in 2001. (5277 frequent fliers and travel professionals surveyed)

Delays, service and food were the main complaints. At the top: Continental, Midwest, JetBlue, Aloha. At the bottom: Northwest, US Air, Spirit.

Here's MY list of gripes:

Ticket counter check in - they type a zillion entries. I swear they are sending E mail to each other. I can log on and be around the world on a website in seconds. So why don't they use a better and easier technology instead of so many keystrokes?
(We always buy and seat-assign by website when possible, and then kiosk check-in at airport. Avoid the people!)

Gate agents that act like gods/goddesses. Hey, stop being so RUDE. I was upset once because we missed a connecting flight by about a minute after running from gate to gate for fifteen minutes, and when said I thought it was wrong since they could see the flight was late getting in and should have held the connection, she said if I persisted she'd call the police. Want to feel helpless? Try that.

Smelly planes. Gross. Can't they blow them out? Some are people smells, some are just musty. Yuk.

Non-communicative pilots. You sit and wait and wait and wait and John Friggin Wayne up there never thinks to let you know what the heck is up. Communist!

Snippy flight attendants. Once upon a time they seemed nice. Some still are. Some are just jerks. Men and women both.

Never try to sleep on the aisle because they will park the cart and ice chip and open cans right by your ear.

Seats. Oh my god, who makes these things? There's no way to be comfortable and there's no legroom (I'm 6 feet - that's not so abnormal, is it?) I'd pay more for room. (Not first class room, but that's ridiculous room. Yes, we have upgraded from time to time. Yes, we felt special. But it's generally not worth the price differential.)

Bathrooms. If they let you even approach the bathroom ("sir, the "fasten seatbelt" sign is still illuminated, please take you seat!" "Hey, if I take my seat it's going to be wet, okay?" "Sir, you must sit." "Sure I do, because you can't stand and pee in that grotesque thing you call a restroom." "Sir, if you don't sit immediately, I'll..." "Hey, I am POSSESSED BY MY BLADDER okay, and it's going to explode.." "Sir, you can't speak about explosions on an aircraft or you will be detained by federal agents upon disembarkation!" "I am going to disemURINATE after sitting on the ground for that extra hour before we took off..." "Sir, RETURN TO YOUR SEAT." "Can I have a blanket and empty soda can then?"


Never flush an airline toilet while sitting. You'll either get a butt cheek sucked right off your body or you'll be bathed in blue fluid. The good news is ice won't form on your butt for some time.

I was once on a flight - a DC9 I think - that hit the Pittsburgh runway so hard the stewardess started crying. I am not making this up.

Maybe there's room for Sadistic Air. "If you can fit in the seat, we'll find other ways to punish you."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

West Wing Debate

If you watched it, you were not alone, but you weren't in the majority either.

I saw two polls: they put Santos' (Jimmy Smits') win at 70% and 54%. Just like real polling?

As a ratings sweeps month stunt, the live debate was a modest success: the audience of 9.6 million viewers beat the show's season average of 8.2 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. But = the show was a distant third in the ratings to ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and CBS' "Cold Case."

The NBC NEWS bug was on screen for the whole debate, which some think hurts their cred. I agree and was surprised. These things used to be guarded much more carefully.

But then Larry King interviewed Boston Legal's Denny Crane this past episode.

You can't tell what's real and what's not any more, unless you pay attention and see through the blur. A survey I read recently says increasing numbers of 'young folks' get their news from blogs and shows such as The Daily Show (satire) and The Colbert Report* (more satire.)

They don't trust the 'real' news organizations.

I noticed last night the local newscast has less than 12 minutes of NEWS content on it. Couple of sentences cover THIS and a couple more THAT. As I grow older I care more about the news. Why is that? Maybe I have a greater understanding of the inherent drama of life.

* If you watch, you're not imagining it - Colbert is pronounced ColBEAR so they pronounce Report RePOOR. Funny!

Paris Hilton and clubbers fender bender - the video

POOR rich folks. Not average rich folks - tycoon kids... their life must be so hard.

This is a scary video - and the beautiful Bentley - the same one I want (cough cough) - is driven away from a club Wednesday night by the driver WHO APPEARS TO HAVE A JACKET OVER HIS HEAD. Goes about 6 feet right into the back of a truck. Then pulls off some bad maneuvers.

The Police let them go later, even though... well, if you have high speed internet, try the link (it might be overloaded on your first try) and see for yourself.

Click here to see the Bentley crash and some scary driving

Imagine the repair job for even a scratch on a Bentley. It hurts to think about it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

All Fedexed Up - again

I have been waiting for about a week for a FedEx ground delivery from California.

The shipper sent me the tracking number and I've watched the process via online tracking. I do believe that FedEx does a generally good job and I trust their handling (so far). Yet their telephone automation system is a bitch to navigate. Clue: first chance you get, say REPRESENTATIVE to get a live person. Many of their screen forms are also confusing if you go by internet. Good luck! My wife thinks it's my fault but last time she ended up stuck too, and lost her mind when the REPRESENTATIVE couldn't figure out our problem either.

And now, for the tracking data...

First of all, it posts slowly (days late at some times) and secondly, for my package, they have it going from me to the shipper, instead of the other way around, and "document" picking it up here (they didn't) and taking it there (today).

Wouldn't that me a MAJOR MAJOR software error? Or a major shipping error if indeed it got to Texas then went back?

Such obvious goofs from such a major company. Wouldn't you think they watch for these things?

Monday, November 07, 2005

All Christmas Music Radio has begun again

All over the nation, Christmas music 24/7 has begun on certain radio stations. Does it seem early this year to you? Here's why: what was initially a stunt was proven very popular some years back, and other station operators were quick to notice that new audience came into their stations when they played Christmas music. This would get people used to personalities or at least get them to set a button for a station that previously didn't have one. Buttons are important.

Seeing that success, all over the US, other stations lay in wait the year after, and THEY went all Christmas too. It was a war of all Christmas music. Many markets had two stations trying to out Santa each other. I know - I was in that battle myself.

Some markets had three or MORE stations doing this.

Now at least a handful of stations have already jumped. "First in wins" is the thinking. Actually, doing a better job probably matters as much. And advertising it matters more.

Here's the awful truth: there are only a small number of Christmas songs which are non-religious and not too slow, that you can play. Although NEW Christmas songs come out every year, nobody ever heard them before, and they usually are ignored. After all, you grew up listening to WHITE CHRISTMAS and it makes you all warm and fuzzy for the best (hopefully) days of your youth, so it packs way more power than the newly recorded CHRISTMAS IS EGGNOG DREAMS OF YOU.

A good station will avoid the fringe songs and play the others to death. You will listen as a zombie and can't help yourself. When you want the feeling, you will want Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree or Let It Snow. Believe me, I've seen the research. So what the stations do is find maybe a dozen or more versions of each chestnut and rotate song titles about every 45 minutes to hour and a half.

Sometimes the station audiences go UP, sometimes not. I think all Christmas music can get people to notice and remember what they listen to, and that's a large part of successful radio programming.

Wonder if XM will have an ALL XMAS channel?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Wouldn't it be nice...

It seems too good to be true: a new source of near-limitless power that costs virtually nothing, uses tiny amounts of water as its fuel and produces next to no waste. If that does not sound radical enough, how about this: the principle behind the source turns modern physics on its head.

Read the article. Then wait 4 years. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Rubbing it in

November 5: T-shirt, shorts, barefeet. Blue sky, dry wind and 85.5 degrees: why we moved from Minneapolis.


If you thought the ads over urinals were the last frontier of advertising, you are wrong. And don't forget to wash your hands.

I find this hard to believe, but there it was, in the parking lot of Home Depot: Advertising on the stripes that delineate parking spaces! MAYTAG MAYTAG MAYTAG.

Long ago I thought they should experiment in Minnesota, where they cut grooves in to the roads for better traction, to see if they couldn't engrave advertising or warnings like phonograph records. If you went the right speed, your tires would act as a stylus and "play" the road. SLOW CURVE AHEAD. Or better - COCA COLA!!! Or STOP AT MCDONALDS - NEXT EXIT.

I've already blogged about selling advertising on the dollar bill.

It's everywhere. See the blog below. We may be more programmed than we suspect!

Bob Shops (2)

I noticed the supermarket was playing CLASSIC ROCK over the PA system. Classic Rock may be today's BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. Makes sense, as it fits most of the demographic I saw shopping - I'd put the average age at 45... the bullseye 40-50.

Radio station thinking is that one's musical taste is set in their last year of formal education. So some song from, say, 1978, when someone was 18, puts them at... 45 now.

I heard Janis Joplin sing "Busted Flat in Baton Rouge..."

And when I went back to the car I noticed one tire needed air. Coincidence?

I heard the Ozark Mountain Daredevils sing Jackie Blue. I bought water: OZARKA water.

Jackson Browne sang something. I - atypically for me - brought home some BROWNIES.

I am too frightened to delve deeper. I think we are all slaves to mind control. Cue Rod Serling. It may have been sunny, but yesterday was clearly in The Twilight Zone.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Bob Shops

Terri has guilt-tripped me into going to the supermarket. Alone. Generally this falls under her chores. Sexist it may be, but there you have it. She doesn't do weeding. I do. Maybe it's the view of the world I inherited from my parents in the 50s... my mother shopped. Come to think of it, my dad didn't weed. Nor did he drive a car. Don't get me started!

Now the thing I have noticed in my dash-in-for-one-thing visits in the past or when I might go with Terri on those rare eclipse-days, is that men don't belong. They all seem so lost. That's because we ARE lost. Women are ticked because we are contra-flow - so who knew you are supposed to go UP this aisle and DOWN that one? (And why?)

Guys will be found staring at the tomato paste section with blank looks of the hopelessly confused.

Guys will squeeze fruit, smile, and remember that high school moment... you know the one.

Guys will bring home many (more) things NOT ON THE LIST (and they will hear about it.)

Guys will buy UNAUTHORIZED versions of what's on the list, swayed by packaging or not paying any attention to the list's brand names. Lured by price or seduced by some primal urge, we'll fail.

Guys will avoid direct eye contact with other guys. Shame?

No guy shops in a cowboy hat.

Some guys like to cook and know what they are doing in the store. I forgive them and figure their chemistry-set gene went wrong and became a gumbo gene. Or they are aliens.

Guys will take several samples of anything sampled if it smells good.

Stores cater to women. There are old granny women behind all samples, but, if replaced by babes, would sell enormous quantities of whatever to the guys who might happen by. They will then eat HANDFULS of whatever it is, just to linger. They will look at the babes like puppys look at bones. They will discuss food they wouldn't normally eat.

Note to men: SOMEONE I KNOW WELL has deliberately tried screwing up the list in order to never be handed this duty again. It didn't work.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A break-up

We just received word that a couple we have been friends with over some years has broken up. (They've been living out of the country so we haven't seen them in a long time.)

Apparently this is far beyond the various differences that crop up as a relationship changes over time.

So sad.

It makes you feel helpless.

I had their picture on my office wall for almost 10 years, frozen in wave-at-the-camera smiles, sitting in the tropic sun on a cruise ship. That state of perpetual happiness is the way they are frozen in my memory. I am in denial.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hillary swings at a slow ball over the plate

President Bush announced a plan to combat a possible pandemic. Specifically Bird Flu.

U.S. Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton noted that the United States has struggled to cope with the annual influenza outbreaks. "Since 2000, we have experienced three shortages of seasonal influenza vaccine," she said in a statement.

"While it is welcome news that the administration is focused on vaccine research and stockpiling in the event of a pandemic flu, the question is how will the administration handle distribution and communications with a system that has failed to meet seasonal flu vaccine demands in three out of the last five years?"

I'm not a fan of Hillary, but you have to admit this was a shot which was just waiting to be taken. And justifiably so. I can't imagine the media whipped chaos we'd face if a serious killer bug got loose in our population. I CAN imagine the government doing another Katrina FEMA chicken dance.

SONY does a bad thing

Looks like certain copyprotected SONY CDs are encoded with programs that will reside on your computer and you can't rid yourself of them.

Here's a link if you are a technoweenie: The really technical detail is here. Just be careful before playing any disc in your computer drive. Read the label carefully about digital rights management (DRM). Incidentally, in comments on this gent's site it appears it may be illegal for SONY to have done this. UPDATE: Now Sony fesses up!

The IPod

I was in an electronics retailer the other day, looking for more memory for my computer at a great price. Of course they didn't have any. If I could have remembered which store had the ad in Sunday's paper...

I sure wish you could buy PERSONAL RAM!

I have a mind like a steel sieve.

Anyway, a nice young (college?) kid and I got to talking. I asked him what was hot and he told me the IPod nano was so hot they couldn't keep them (especially the expensive one) in stock. He showed me the demo model. Really cool. And small.

I remember - when was it? 1978 or so, seeing the first SONY WALKMAN (on cassettes!) I ordered it on the spot! Incredible. It was so cool to be on vacation, sitting on the beach in the sun, with these tiny headphones on, signaling that I was 'in the know.' And the sound was so much better than what we had up till then!

Fast forward a few years to the same story with the early portable CD player. Sitting on an airplane after the 'use of electronic devices okay' being real cool. And the sound!

And now, the IPod. But I have two issues - even though there's no denying the cool factor - the sound isn't what I'd want unless I'd use uncompressed files, buy expensive Etymotic headphones see this section of my website for more, and then have to buy all those songs AGAIN, or dub them from discs.

Just too much trouble. And way too expensive. And man, if the darn thing broke or I lost it after spending THOUSANDS on it...

When I worked in radio last, we had a huge file server which had all the songs from all the stations in the building on it and I could listen to any and all of them from my desktop - the ultimate collection. Once in a while I'd go find some gem and entertain myself, but truthfully, the novelty wears off. A "reunion" with that special song works once or twice but then, I'm done for another 10 years.

I have assembled quite the stereo system at home, in a special room designed for one purpose - the best sound you can get. Years in the making and tweaking, it's the best I can manage - I call it my land yacht because for the money invested I could have a nice nice boat!

I'd hate to diminish those musical experiences by overplaying my favorites - hmmm.... like RADIO does.

I think the model is wrong. I think you should get preloaded IPods with all music FREE for X plays. Then if you want to keep a song, you click on it and when you recharge the IPod, it 'charges' your account for permanent permission to keep playing that song. A download would replace that song with another. This would help disseminate new music to people who normally wouldn't hear it, and certainly the computers could find what you like and load similar songs or genres.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The West Wing

An interesting twist next Sunday, as the two 'candidates' for President in this fiction will debate LIVE on TV (with limited commercial interruption - nice touch!)

Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda will remind us what it looks like when good men seriously debate the issues. And believe me, we will no doubt hear both sides of some serious issues.

Will they study the positions of the men they portray and actually wing it, or simply do the script? I think the latter. Any actor is much better when propelled by writing of the caliber you find on The West Wing.

Maybe these guys have photographic memory - I couldn't memorize a paragraph let alone a 25+ minute speech (roughly equal time with maybe some backstage shots.) I sure do envy those who can.

It's an odd circumstance - having TWO likeable guys to 'choose' from, neither coated by mud slung from the other's camp. If only the real world was so idyllic.